Mum and I set off for Warrington this morning. We left a sunny Cambridge in sandals and shorts and found icy rain and winds near Manchester. Bloody English weather!
We came to visit my grandmother’s side of the family, in particular my second cousin Geoffrey and my … hrm… well, his father and my grandmother’s brother, Stanley. My great-uncle? Stanley is turning 100 this year. Not that you’d know it – I’ve not met many people on the verge of turning 100 but if they all looked as good as Stanley I’d be surprised. Obviously I’m hoping this is hereditary.
Mum and I booked into our hotel and Geoffrey came to pick us up. I was immediately struck by his resemblance to my grandmother and, to a lesser degree, my mother. My family doesn’t have really distinctive features like big eyebrows or beaky noses so I think resemblances can be more tricky to spot, but there was definitely something around the eyes that was familiar.
Geoffrey drove us around a bit to see houses that Mum semi recalled (last time she was here was over 50 years ago at the age of 16) then to see Stanley. A little deaf, Stanley had no idea who Mum was to begin with but we talked and he clearly recalled his visit to Australia in about 1978 and it turned out that I’d met him, although being around 2 years old at the time it is no surprise that I don’t recall the occasion.
Geoffrey’s brother Nigel and his partner dropped by and we all talked and looked at some of Mum’s photos – and of course we all took some photos. It was so strange hearing a group of people talk in an accent I only associate with my grandfather (he is from nearby also).
After that we went to Geoffrey’s place and his tortoises! I had not expected to see so many animals on this visit – everyone we visited bar Stanley had dogs and cats and Geoffry had rabbits as well. The tortoises were quite big too and one was over 20 years old. Amazing!
We adjourned to a restaurant down the road for dinner before briefly visiting Geoffrey’s son (my third cousin?) Oliver and his family.
So many new faces! Everyone was lovely and I’m glad that we got to meet them. It’s not every day you meet family for the first time and Geoffrey particularly was so hospitable and lovely, driving us around and telling us what had happened to everyone.
Tomorrow we’re heading to Burnage Lane, where Mum spent her childhood before moving to Australia at age 11. Then after that is a relatively short drive to the Lake District where we’re spending two nights.